Weekly Professor Breakdown: Salvador Carrasco
"It feels like another life," Professor Carrasco uttered quietly as he struggled to remember when tennis first became such an integral part of his life. He opts to sit on top of his desk, eyes closed and face scrunched as he tries to find the path to memory lane. It wasn't long before a smile reappeared on his face and he said, "Six. I was six years old when I first began playing tennis competitively in Mexico City where I was born and raised." Growing up as the youngest to three older sisters who all played tennis competitively, it seemed natural that he would follow suit. "It wasn't even a choice really," he joked. But what started out as an after-school sport quickly turned into an all out, rigorous training program to go pro.
It wouldn't be long before he was sponsored by both Pepsi and Adidas. He was that good.
"Eventually I ranked number one in the 14 and under category. I even won the national singles and doubles championship. In my age category that is," he added with an overwhelming sense of modesty.
At a very early age he would travel both nationally and internationally, with frequent trips to the United States. It was then that he would begin to truly feel and completely grasp the scope of his responsibility representing his country.
At the tender age of nine, he understood that representing his country internationally was more than just playing well. "I remember looking at my father's map of Mexico and feeling responsible for truly representing my country through my behavior and attitude. I understood the many biases against Mexicans and I felt like an ambassador," he remarked. Professor Carrasco realized that for some, he would be their first contact with someone of Mexican descent and he was determined to make the best possible impression. "You know, I still feel that way, 25 years later. This is one of the reasons I teach Film 7, Representation of Ethnic Minorities in Cinema here at Santa Monica College."
However at age 14, his budding tennis career came to a sudden halt. Despite his international success, Professor Carrasco made the very mature decision that he would not go pro at age 15. "It was a very difficult decision and came as a shock to everyone who knew me," he remembered about his life changing choice. He expressed gratitude towards the fact that his parents allowed him to make his own decision, even though it would also greatly affect them as well.
Had he decided to become a professional athlete, he would've had to leave school and learn through private tutors. But as he meditated on his decision, he showed wisdom beyond his years by thinking realistically of his future as an athlete. "I'm in my early 40's now and my career would've been over by now. I didn't want to dedicate my life to something that would be over in a few years."
One of the things Professor Carrasco loves about his current occupation as a film director is that he could make his best film in his 80s, or in other words, he enjoys the longevity.
For him, the solidarity of film directing parallels that of a singles tennis champ, and is one of the aspects that drew him into this profession. "I have a son who plays soccer and loves being apart of a team. That is new to me and I enjoy learning through him."
Professor Carrasco only plays tennis socially these days and currently lives in Santa Monica with his wife and three children. Although he and his wife chose not to push a particular sport on their children, interestingly enough they have started to gravitate towards karate.
Regardless of what the sport is, he strongly encourages exposing children to sports at an early age because it teaches core values such as discipline, maturity, learning how to handle pressure. The skills he learned while on the path to athletic success help him in his everyday life, and he encourages all to take up a sport and reap the benefits.